By Tom Degun

JonniePeacock2012February 24 - International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven has backed the new disability athletics series that will be launched later this year to help the sport grow dramatically following London 2012.

The Grand Prix events will see a series of global meetings in the style of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League.

The Grand Prix series will begin next month with a three-day meet in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates from March 25 until 27 before going to Beijing, São Paulo, Grosseto, Arizona, Berlin and then Birmingham for the finals.

The athletics series, which was announced by the IPC last month, comes after London 2012 staged by far the most impressive Paralympic athletics competition in history that saw an unprecedented 1,185,976 tickets sold and capacity 80,000 crowds in attendance for almost every session.

"I think this new athletics series is a great announcement from the IPC," Sir Philip told insidethegames.

"It has been very well received around the world and there is a lot of excitement.

"The Paralympic athletics competition at London 2012 showed the huge appetite there is for the sport and this is a great way to build on that interest as we begin to look to Rio in 2016.

"It is a very exciting time for IPC Athletics right now because in addition to this series, we have host cities secured for the next three IPC World Athletics Championships.

"We have Lyon in July this year, we have Doha in 2015 and then we obviously have London in 2017.

"So we are certainly looking forward to the series getting underway very shortly."

Sir Philip CravenPC President Sir Philip Craven has backed the new disability athletics series to be a major hit when it gets underway in Dubai next month

The Grand Prix events are mostly designed to give athletes the chances to compete against the world's best more regularly while also developing a framework of excellence in competition management in areas such as classification, education, research and anti-doping.

In addition to the Grand Prix series, the first IPC Athletics Marathon World Cup will be staged as part of the Virgin London Marathon on April 21, where many of the world's top wheelchair racers, such as Dave Weir, will be competing in the city for the first time since the Paralympic Games last summer.

"London 2012 made the likes of David Weir and Jonnie Peacock household names," Sir Philip added.

"To have athletes like them back competing on the IPC circuit again soon will only help build on the momentum of the Paralympic Movement going forward."

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